The horses are beginning to accept this life, they know to eat when they can - and drink when given. Oh yes and you can lead a horse to water and... Well, sometimes!
Rayo has accepted the route ahead rather than wanting to turn around, they are all keeping weight on and muscling up.
Leaving paradise 4 wasn't easy especially because Mark dropped a scoot boot and we had to go back for it!
Still there seemed plenty of time to arrive in Benamaural to watch football.
Yes, the F.A.cup final cannot be missed.
It was clear that Marks last few days route planning and timing had more to do with the match than anything else!
We arrived at a bar on the edge of town in plenty of time, it was about 4pm..Mark immediately with his mobile on the wifi, swearing away!
There was a children's party there so the horses got loads of attention.
After a beer I decided I'd go for a walk about to sus out a night spot, footy would end at 8.30 leaving us little time to set up camp etc, so off I went in the direction of the riverbed..A 20 minute amble found a couple of good possibilities so I headed back to the bar.
Mark was head down in the FA cup final, as usual commenting and directing the match in his loud northern accent he only uses for football - wierd.
Meanwhile the horses were eating tree bark and the rustic fencing they were tied to..
Thankfully Arsenal were winning and when the other team went down to 10 men, Mark conceded to give up the poor quality viewing and we left to set up camp.
Very careful now not to take the slightest risk of grazing used land, we settled for 3 small terraces near to the river that were obviously neglected.
I tethered Rayo and Lorna and made Tio a small paddock, collected water enough for them to have their fill and by then Mark had the tent up and the dinner cooking!
We are becoming a well oiled machine in these respects.
We tend to arrange the tack and supplies into a semi-circle around the tent giving us a sort of living area and keeping things tidy, and on occasions that we both leave camp, or at night, we cover the semi-circle with our horse rugs.
Dinner was lush, camping food is always yummy, even if basic, probably because we're always starving!
We had a good nights sleep as this night the bed I'd say was airbubble level.
(Though our last camp was heavenly, the bed was going downhill sideways - in Marks favour i.e. he likes it when Im all over him in the morning)
The one night stops are hard work, rush to set up. Eat. Sleep. Rush to get up. Pack up. Tack up, sometimes without breakfast or coffee and we haven't managed it yet in less than 3 hours.
Lorna has come to accept her loading these days very well, considering her inexperience, she is brilliant, she has good common sense and doesn't think about moving around while we load her up.
The 'Chiara Caligari Super Saddlebags' have proved wonderful!!
Loading only happens once all the bags are weighed.
Then Mark has to lift and I have to fix the clasp, leave one side hanging on that, then do the same on the other side. Then the rear and centre velcro and clips are secured over the saddle. Next the top bag goes on which is then tied, pulled tighter, tied, pulled tighter until the whole 3 bag banana shaped bundle is high and centred.
Any move on her part during those precarious stages would be disastrous, she knows that, and she stands.
Our two steeds are tacked up before Lorna, so she doesn't have to wait long.
When the pack is well balanced, we cover a good distance, if its not, it can be very slow going. I must dismount and remount umpteen times, moving items to alter weight or/and tying up one side or the other, its rarely correctable, first fix precision is the key.
We had a good days riding, sadly at the moment, mainly on C roads, but the horses like the tarmac surface.
Of course we mostly walk, but if the pack is stable, we all enjoy moving on in a jolly trot.
The scenery is almost always beautiful, Spain is a beautiful country. Unless you are on a long wide plain, generally the sights vary keeping you happily quietly entertained, or prompting conversation about the lives and times of the local communities, history is before your eyes in Spain, ruins, old caminos, roads, terracing, asequias, all still there even if long abandoned.
We can't stop at every bar! But there are so many friendly looking groups of locals sitting outside with kids marvelling at the "Caballos", that it's hard not to.
The men always know their horses (or like to think they do), always with the "muy noble" but no shoes???
Invariably after my shoes v barefoot explanation, they start telling me what I've just told them and how much better horses are with no shoes!!!
Talking of equipment, horse comfort etc. The saddlepads purchased from "Tienda de raid" based in Orgiva, have proven to be invaluable.
Not a rub or mark on their backs to worry about, the thickness and size of the pads give you complete confidence in spreading weight evenly and keeping any of the bags etc from touching the horses bodies. Sweat is minimal and they are simple to clean and dry in minutes.
The scoot boots fit really well and the horses get comfort from them, especially on the typical 'pistas' here that are compacted by cars but have a loose stoney surface which can really hurt the horses soles.
Also on such a long journey they will reduce the chance of over wearing, plus we use cornicrecine liberally to promote growth.
The bar we do finally stop at in the mid afternoon (on a sunday) has a very handy shop in the back room.
A cold beer and tapas is perfect.
The horses have a little sleep.
They get their refreshment stops too, we never pass a good bit of grass without letting them have a snack.
The friendly landlady tells us of an alternative and scenic track route to Castillar, our next destination.
Oh happy days!
Brightfrogstar@gmail.com = Chiara